Die Welt: The Italian Mafia Returns to Bulgaria and Romania
" 'Ndràngheta has been active in Eastern Europe for 20 years. It is also capable of influencing elections," said the anti-mafia prosecutor Nicola Gratteri of Calabria in a large article in the newspaper Die Welt. According to the German edition, he is the most important forensic expert on the international contacts of the powerful Calabrian mafia.
Back in 2008, Francesco Forgione, Chairman of the Rome Anti-Mafia Commission, presented a comprehensive report on the international expansion of 'Ndràngheta. The Calabrian has long been under police protection because of his discoveries and is well aware of the dangers associated with one of the the most powerful criminal organizations in the world. He is also the author of the book Mafia Export.
"The organizations of the Italian mafia have long settled in all countries of Eastern Europe - above all in Bulgaria and Romania," said Forgione, quoted by Die Welt. The mafia's interests are "the same everywhere in the world," the expert added:
"The Mafia wants to profit from all sorts of financial transactions, money laundering, investment and illegal trade of all kinds."
Giant money from international trade in drugs, weapons and hazardous waste has been invested in real estate or stock exchange transactions - this is the simplest way to launder money, "says Francesco Forgione, adding:
"We know from our investigations that the Mafia is involved in Romania's poisonous waste scandals and has spread its tentacles to Gazprom." It is a fact, for example, that the Casalesi clan, one of Camorra's most successful bandit groups, has consolidated interests in Romania, and the Corleone clan has been involved in scandals with illegal poisonous waste. "
Recently, the mafia's appetites are also directed at EU structural funds, the resources of which are slowly being shifted from the southern flank of Europe to the eastern European member states. For 'Ndràngheta, which has huge resources, it is like a childish game to buy political influence in these countries, explains Forgione.
"This is the known mechanism of corruption - the Mafia bribes politicians to ensure impunity, and for politicians in the region, Mafia money is welcome because they serve their clientele and fund election campaigns," said the Italian expert.
It is supposed that the Mafia is directing its Eastern European business from the territory of Germany, where its criminal structures have been rooted for decades. "The Mafia entered Germany for a while along with the gastarbaters and for a long time went unnoticed because the authorities in the country had enough problems with other organizations - for example, the mighty Russian mafia," says Forgione, adding: Only after the bloody bath in Duisburg in 2007 when six people were gunned down in front of a restaurant in the middle of the day, the German authorities began to look at the structures of the Italian mafia.
'Ndràngheta directs drug exports through the strategic Dutch ports of Rotterdam and Antwerp and controls its subdivisions in the Benelux countries. Two members of the Strangioo clan of San Luke in Calabria, who were involved in the killings in Duisburg, were arrested in Rotterdam and Brussels.
Francesco Forgione suggests that the expansion of the Italian mafia to Eastern Europe begins immediately after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Indisputable in this regard are the words of a boss of the mafia, which he said on the fateful date of November 9, 1989: "The Wall has fallen, go straight to Berlin and buy everything in the East," he ordered in a conversation tapped by the police.
Forgione argues that much of the Italian restaurant which are favorite of the Germans are tied to the Calabrian mafia bosses. The newspaper "Die Welt" notes that 11 members of the 'Ndràngheta were arrested in Germany in the January police action.
The fact that the mafia is expanding its business in Eastern Europe is also evident in the drug and arms trade returning to Bulgaria, Romania, Albania and Montenegro. Eastern European countries, including EU members, have often offered a "safe ground" for illegal transactions because legislation, search methods and cooperation in the fight against organized crime are far less developed than in Italy and Western European countries, " concludes Francesco Forgione, quoted by Die Welt.
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